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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  August 5, 2012 11:00am-12:00pm EDT

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not the moment. so not only is it about the grounding with in history. i talk about shirley chisholm, geoffrey jackson, chicago politics. the first black congressman coming from the south side of chicago. ..
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it has to be anchored in these trends, these ideological trends that are developing within the black community and the history that the rise of his campaign came out of. >> tell me a little bit before we get to some of the details in the book that just spill out nicely there, we'll touch on most of those, tell me a little bit about what it was like to write the book, to do the research for it. you make note that political scientist, stuck in the numbers and our stats, in the present context. what was it like you -- like for you to look back and historical context? >> that's an excellent question, because this was a very different book for me to write. i'm pretty much your conventional political scientist. iran statistical models. i do survey work. i made a little other here and
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there like it did on the black church but basically i'm looking for statistical rigor and theoretical contributions. but i really felt in many ways that the work that i've done hasn't really spoken directly onto issues that i think are important to black politics. and i think it's really crucial at this moment, but because i think there's a lot of amnesia going on about what those political struggles meant for black communities. and so it was inspiring in many ways, and a little bit fun, to sort of go and think back decades before, to dab into the history, disorder put together all the interesting characters and in places like chicago, and there were plenty of characters that are wrote about and couldn't write about because i didn't have the space. so was just a really fun book to
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do, and it really got me out of just the normal political sort of neutral political scientists. >> all right. let's start at the beginning. you start a chapter when talking about this idea of the clash. tell us a little bit about what that is. what is the primary distinction or fisher in black politics? >> the big difference, and i want to be clear, it's not just black politics. it is specifically black electoral politics. because right in the 1960s when we have discussion about voting rights and voting rights bill, black leaders, black people begin to talk about what they're fishing of what black people and politics and intellectual politics should look like. on one side judge malcolm facts and his famous speech, the ballot or the bullet, we talked about black voters shouldn't be taken for granted.
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that there should be basically community centered issues no matter what the call of a politician is. and the politicians should be held accountable based on what they did or did not do in the interest of the community. on the other side joining morgan coalition focused perspective, rustin and a famous essay he wrote in the 1960s from protest to politics. and he really wasn't trying to steer the protest movement into electoral politics as a part of black becoming a part of democratic party coalition. from southern voters coming in, black voters who are already pretty much electively active with any political party. and so, that vision of coalition politics including idea that
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issues, concerns should be in many ways universal perspective. and that blacks should join coalition with labor movements, sympathetic swipes, liberal organizations to provide policies that would be very important. not that he gave up on sort of anti-discrimination legislation, and the importance of that, but this has been the big clash. it's clash as we see in this first chapter, in many ways crystallized with shirley chisolm running in 1972. there's tensions between these independent black politics and the coalition because she announces her campaign in brooklyn at a church. i'm not the candidate of black folks but i'm not the candidate of women. i'm proud to be both to i'm here to serve the interests of the people. so she was thinking coalition terms but when she went, she didn't do very well speak is
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just a minute because i want ask you to backup. wonder things that immediately catches my eye in this chapter is that back story. to take us back in 1971, chicago hotel room where this meeting convenes. >> right. this is a fascinating story but it's almost like a mystery movie. what you have is a secret meeting that happens in chicago. 1971, and you have black in the good officials, mayor hatchett out of gary, indiana, first black mayor from major american city, julian bond, percy sutton, stable in new york city black politics. over 100 black elected officials meet outside of all hair, near o'hare airport outside chicago, and which have is a have guards
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posted because they don't want the media goal. ya people ducking into elevators. and what they're doing is going to deliberate on the need to run an african-american for president. they are some people who are opposed to a. or some people who are for it. some people think there's a better strategy, pick the most liberal and viable white candidate will be accountable to the black community if he is elected. you have some people say no, we shouldn't, 1971, no, we should run a black candidate. and then we know that person will win but we want to use the votes, the delegates that articulated and leverage at the community so we can get patronage, you know, get policy issues that are important to us. and so all this leads to the
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next summit in 1972, the national black political convention in gary, indiana, we have all these black delegates are black political convention trying to negotiate policy positions. some of the stuff isn't universal policies like healthier. his famous speech, it's nation time, it's nation time, it's nation time. so you have to sort of grass-roots effort that plays, plays black issues on the agenda. and so we have here is its shirley chisolm who doesn't go to that meeting. at o'hare airport, near o'hare airport rather, but she just jumps in her cell. spent no one else got selected. they couldn't decide. >> they couldn't come up with a candidate. and was also, people had
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interest by going with a political candidate because they might personally benefit from the association to so there's a lot of brokering is going on. but surely hopscotched over that step, when she announced she is running. she did it, some people a poster, particularly the men who were very sexist black politicians in particular who thought that a black man should be first to run in the democratic primary. but there are lessons that are learned from that experience. she talked about those, and what's important is it laid the foundation for jesse jackson's campaign and jackson's campaign, i would argue laid the foundation 20 years later for barack obama. >> great. that's a little bit of a want to ask you about, starting with shirley chisolm who as such, an inspiring figure but when you look at it in terms of sort of ethical measurements of political success, she number
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one ran without any kind of section from the black elite. she was unable to get very many black delegates. when she tried after humphrey released his delegates at the convention and she tried another play to try to amass delegates, she was unsuccessful there. >> right. >> and ultimately she was unable to translate any of that into any kind of tangible gains or leverage by the democratic party nominee that you. so by all accounts she was a failure. and so tell me why it is her candidacy was so central, and why it paved the way and what it was this sort of first chapter in this story that ultimately ends up with barack obama. >> right. it was a failure by those measures, but what it did is gave african-americans for the first time experience in
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presidential policy. and so these players in the background, particularly jesse jackson pops up in key moments, and also in civil rights black history, it gave us experienced the they kind of new how things were. they learned from the failure of that experience. but also i think as a shirley chisolm set herself in her memoir that she wrote that was published a year later, is that she was the first. that only the first african-american, the first woman, it's a discipline in many ways that in 2008 when we had for the first time a viable woman running for president, and a viable african-american running for president, shirley chisolm was hardly mentioned by the media, the candidates themselves, but despite that she
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was the first. she took the sexism again after her. she, like barack obama and jesse jackson, i didn't talk about this in the book but she talked about in her memoir, her life was threatened because he was running. in fact, wallace was shot. and she came, she got criticism. she came to decide to offer comfort, even though ideologically they were on opposite ends. and so i think, you know, they're always tends to be the first. there were people who were tempted before jackie robinson was integrated, right? but we also forgive those who paved the way and made the road a bit easier for those to come. >> sacrifice for. >> sacrificial lamb i would say. >> i want to read just the value i think, at least one of them, and the historical approach and look at the archives and bringing up that pastor to come
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across things that most people have never read or heard of at all in their lives. i want to read this quote to you, and talk about chisholm, anti-sexism, racism, her ability to face and overcome their i just want to read one of his comments that came from i think it was at the time. so her quickness and impression of anonymity, she is not beautiful. her face is bony and angular, her nose flat and wide, our neck and lends strong. her protruding teeth probably -- are notable list, still and are all biography she describes as a and a much more favorable light. i couldn't imagine like any stretch of imagination something like that have been said about hillary clinton in 2008. so maybe just say as we wrap up a little bit about chisholm a little more about what that
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meant to be that only the first african-american but the first woman, and to take on that kind of vitriolic at that time, and its influence on the successes, female and black politicians. >> right. here is a good example of how shirley chisolm stands at the intersection of racism and gender inequality. and it tells us how far this country has gone, right. that was pretty much part of the chorus in the late '60s and early '70s, and the women's movement is being galvanized. sort of what i described in the book is this heart of darkness, prescription of this woman. i just could not imagine how, what that meant you were psychologically. what did it do to our moral? why is it that, particularly
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during the era of black power, right, that you didn't have mail, you know, black males within the black community come to her defense in making descriptions of her like that. in fact, she had to fight two fronts. that are other coach in the. chicago, but she goes to black expo in chicago on a panel about women in politics. and she basically said, because she's taking all this crap about her as a women running, by the way, she's the first black woman to be elected to congress. so that's a very important fact to know. but she said look, guys, get off my back. you know, this is not about women. we all are tied in this destiny of making progress, both black men and black women. so shasta five both fronts.
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she had male colleagues in the congressional black caucus, you know, when a reporter would ask about what you think about shirley chisolm, shirley who? the other rolled his eyes as reporter, not even respond. and so she's come a long way, and i don't think, i think it would behoove those who are interested in addressing these issues around both race gender to forget the sacrifices that shirley chisolm made in that particular campaign. >> absolutely. let's step ahead. another 12 years after shirley chisolm, we have of course jesse jackson. tell me a little bit about how jackson's campaign differed and how he as a candidate different in terms of the strategy and what he thought could be accomplished at the very beginning. >> by the 1980s, in many ways 76 is sort of an election sort
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of black leaders, black voters really get behind the governor of georgia, and carter, and he gets these endorsements from people like andy young he was the mayor of atlanta, you know, a colleague of dr. king, coretta scott king, and also their sort of, people are, black leaders are getting behind carter because they don't want another year of presidential administration from a republican. by 1980, there's a year that also passes, but by 1984, with that, yeah, rain of the reagan administration, the rising tide of conservatism, and because of
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the democratic party not opposing these policies, black folks are getting very impatient. they are failing that they're being taken for granted by the democratic party. these are renewed discussions, some of the same players in 1972, but new players because there's a new block of black elected officials, mayors. and so people, jesse jackson is raising the banner of independent black policy, it's our time now. we want our share. and so what we have here is a split that we will see later on among those who think that this is a good strategy, and those who go with sort of mondale or the regular sort of white liberal democrats. and ironically enough, black elected officials, most are
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opposed to jackson's candidacy. but there's a rising tide of grassroots activism in the black community. jesse gets a majority of the black vote, but hardly among the white voters of course. and so what we have here is the idea of using the black vote, the jubilation of delegates as a leverage to get the democratic party to respond to these progressive issues that they seem to be neglecting on behalf of black communities. >> jackson's campaign starts in many ways like chisholm's as one might say a symbolic effort. that is, no one thought he was going to win. he himself didn't think he is going to win, but the effort was amassing those delegates and using that as a way of gaining some influence and power within the democratic party.
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>> yes, exactly. and putting issues on the table. you know, issues around the primary system or runoff system in the south what if the majority of a candidate doesn't come at least get 50% of the vote, a runoff has to take place. sort of racially polarized electoral districts, whether congress or, you know, city council districts, this would be a disadvantage to black candidates because they would get a plurality of the vote but not the majority, and then so when they are too on cue, right, usually oftentimes the black candidates would lose. so they wanted to get away with it, get away from that system. and also the anti-apartheid is going on at this time. is pushing off the democratic party to address those issues very aggressively. and so it was using the
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electoral process and presidential election to set the agenda, right. and so yes, it was partly symbolic, but there's some substantive aspects of it in athens. not necessarily become the first black president, but to get these issues on the agenda and onto the pop form, and have the democratic party address those issues. >> do something specific, targeted right at the black community which is the essence of the independent black politics. >> exactly. >> so 84-88, what changes with respect to the independent, the coalition and what motivates jackson going forward? >> right. so we have as i said before in 84, it's our time now, we want our share. 1980 is the rainbow coalition. so you see the tension switching
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and the strategy, and i have to say before jesse jackson, given his history, it was really pretty much a successful strategy in the sense that he didn't win, but for a few weeks people thought that he may win the primary. he won the michigan primary, for instance. instance. overall pick up 20% of the white vote. and he partly his strategy. you know, he talked about those working-class voters, both the white working-class voters issues around plant closings, and i didn't say this in the book, but particularly the speech he gave in 88. he's the first democrat running in the primary who spoke out for gay and lesbian rights. you know, so 20 years later we will see a different outcome. and so again it lays the platform for a very progressive coalition that would develop later on.
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but also, you know, he didn't get much out of it. and as a part of this strategy, you know, is that even if you, ravi go from the coalition, use the coalition strategy or the independent black politics strategy, juno, you still have to face the american public. because black voters account for about a fifth of democratic primaries. but they have to distance themselves. patient, they become much more moderate. and so democrats have been losing in the '80s to republicans. so in in in many ways it didn't matter what the strategy was to so there was a lot of soul-searching in the party. there's a rise of the southern democrats, but what jesse did which would have implications for barack obama is he got the rules change within the democratic party about the need for proportionate representation and the allocation of delegates. because this is a big issue of
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jesse jackson, both in '84 and 80. he thought people were being disadvantaged because the large states, for instance, had all these which delegates but the rules are very. you have to get a certain amount. if you get 50%, if you got what, 20% of the vote you didn't miss a show to get 20% of the delegates. you got less. and so one of the parts of the negotiation that the parties agreed to in 19 '88 is okay, we will make across the board the process more fair. will make the allocation of delegates more equal. then why that's important, because in 2008 when hillary clinton what is winning big like texas, california, ohio, pennsylvania, and barack obama was winning smaller states. and even though hillary one
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over, sometimes over 50%, winning over 50% of the vote, barack obama got his fair share of the delegates. and some of the estimated, yeah, if the jackson rules were not in place, perhaps rock obama wouldn't have gotten the nomination in 2008. >> articles, neck and neck. >> very close. berry neck and neck. in a, but you also have the public officials who are these delegates, and they were split on down the line because they were waiting to see who was gone when, at that battle in the primary. but i think people sort of forget. and even though jesse jackson is the sort of coalition strategy in his negotiation, it was all that independent black politics. we have all these delegates. this is a process that is unfair to candidates in general, particularly for this candidate. and there are all these other issues.
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so we're going to use of leverage of mostly black delegates to get this one policy change within the democratic party. and sell poor jesse, because 2008 he would be remembered for being the, making those unfortunate comments on fox news, but as i sit in the book i don't think shouldn't forget the movement itself. even though there may be problems with the messenger. currently and perhaps even then. that matter. that focused on using leverage, had consequences down the line that i don't think jesse jackson himself could see. >> and which president obama directly benefited from, and probably wouldn't have been president, maybe had it not been for that spin it certainly didn't hurt. certainly didn't hurt. >> chisholm, jackson, a
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multitude of black candidates in between all paved the way for barack obama's rise and ultimate election. in a second we will get to chicago, and the crucial role that played and the people there played, but before we do that we're going to go to a quick break and then we will be right back. >> on the go, "after words" is available via podcast. visit and click podcast on the upper left side of the page. select which podcast would like to download and listen to "after words" while you travel. >> next stop, chicago. you mention in the book it was almost destiny of our first black president would come from this city, from this state to tell us a little bit about why
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that is and the role that chicago politics played, not only in the elevation of barack obama, but in terms of helping to ferret out this distinction and conflict between independent coalition policy. >> right. as i say, in the title of the chapter, chicago is the political capital of black america, and particularly the southside of chicago. of the, what, four u.s. senators that have existed at least since reconstruction, you know, of the u.s. senators we have had, most of them come from the southside of chicago, senator barack obama, and then the gentleman who is put in to replace him, all african-americans. and it's really a part of the paradigm of the city itself in so many ways. chicago has long been one of the
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most racially segregated cities in america. and so it's a paradox that segregation has led to this very compact, to mostly large black communities on the website of chicago, and particularly on the southside of chicago, that has continuously delivered large number of black folks for democratic party candidates. and so that's one of the paradox of white house political strength of the other is that the role of blacks lay within the democratic party, in many ways, and they read dealt from the machine, particularly started in 1970, that many who went on to become mayor, started out in the daley machine, did he was elected in the mid 1950s. and the machine itself helps to
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perpetrate this racial segregation, public housing policy, it's city planning policy, where to put highways, splits the southside because on one side is majority black community, the other side was majority white community. and so there were efforts to contain the black population on the southside. mostly because of the efforts of the daley machine. ..
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>> and they tend to be more coalition focused in their approach to politics. >> and these are the hyde park -- >> from were barack obama emerged as his political career, from the tradition of being separate from the machine. >> so harold washington. tell us a little bit about where he stands from the beginning to the end. what really makes him a kind of
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central independent sort of black nationalist kind of candidate? >> harold washington i think was a brilliant politician, great organizer. and he really laid it on the ground of what the applications were about that election. and he had to be virtually dragged into running. there was a whole movement prior to getting him to run. led by mostly, led by the actress by the name of luke palmer who i talked to in the book. he's a political activist, not an organizer. there's a difference. we can talk about that. and so harold washington was i was who was on the border between black nationalists as well as the traditional independent. because he had experienced a kid tried to work in the machine to make progress.
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he had ran for mayor earlier in the 1970s. there was some sort of black machine politicians who went along with the candidates of that year. he also saw the need for the old coalition because black voters were only 40%. he talked about the need of the old coalition. however, he never let up on his criticism of racism that existed in the city as well as the need to dispense resources equally throughout chicago. and so, he in many ways is on the border between sort of the hyde park liberals as well as the black nationalist type liberals in chicago tradition. >> i want to talk about that aspect of talking about race, racial inequality. that seems to be from your point
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if you really the central key to the independent black politics, the idea that no matter what happens, whether it is trying to make coalition or work within the community, the idea of racial inequality is center stage. >> exactly. i want to read another one of these gems of a quote that you have in the book, and this is from harold washington, and i think the setup is that he is asked basically if he embodies the good-quality, and this is his response. the art and none, none, none. i did not born at the fear of the late mid to i regret that you are going to i have no regret about him leaving he was a racist from the core head to toe, hit to hit. there's no doubt about it and she oppressed black people to the point some thought that the way, that's the way they're supposed to live. just like some on the plantation
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thought that is the way they're supposed to live. i can't imagine anyone today saying quite clearly that. >> no, no, no. and what's interesting is particularly david axelrod actually worked with harold washington when he ran for reelection in 19 '88. and oftentimes we are, particularly those you are talking about sort of barack obama and how he came to chicago politics, that he is basically extension of what harold washington -- which to some degree he is. i like to look at that he inherited the benefits of the. i could not imagine those words coming out of the mouth of barack obama. of course is that on the national stage, but i think it's
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important so it was just not, i'm his recognizing what history was all about it but is also talking about policy. he talks about jane byrne, the incumbent, right, who is being challenged in 19 '88 three. who does all these horrible things, policy wise. all trying to prevent jane byrne from institutionalizing racism in this great city. in your face. but he also went to white neighborhoods. he talked about what his vision would be. he talked about sort of, you, what he planned to do. he went to latino communities who were supportive of his campaign. and it was because of the coalition now. the coalition, you know, it was almost like the rainbow coalition. you know, lots of black but a few other colors. but he was able to come up with a black mostly coalition, and brown, latino population.
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a few lakefront of white liberals putting over 50% mark. and most of the white voters in that city bolted by not staying with the democratic party. they went with independent white candidates. indeed, one was president in 19 '88 of the cook county democratic party, and ran as an independent against a party. this is how much revolt that was going on. and over-the-counter words that went in. here it looks like what president obama is going through with republicans today. i didn't think about that until now. and so he had a hard road to hoe in sort of navigating against the garment but he did not ever let up on issues regarding the need to challenge racism when it occurred, and also racial inequality in that city. >> but he did lament the fact as
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you mentioned at the end of his campaign that for all the work he did and for all the trying, that coalition, particularly with lights, was miniscule. he hoped it would be much more broad-based? >> i picked up the story i could from david axelrod. i didn't interview him, but in an interview he had done some newspaper story, he talked about working with mayor washington and how he and others were so excited in 1988. when they got 20% of the white vote, right? harold washington, you know, most people, most white people identifying in the city of chicago as democrat at that time. they did abroad, almost, not quite double but almost double what they did in 1983. and harold washington to spend 90% of his time in white neighborhoods trying to convince these white voters to vote for him, said, and i won't sit on public television, or c-span,
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ain't it a to be a black man in america. but got up the next one, gave a great speech, talked about how great chicago is, ready to serve. another year. this is in 1987. unfortunately, months later i'll never forget it, in november of 1980, he died of a heart attack. >> skip ahead a few years. carol moseley braun, so she sets out, she built the same type of coalition that harold washington, much more successful amongst whites. did she do that at the expense of talking about race, racial inequality? >> she didn't run away from it. and what was interesting about, that moment, 1992, is that she
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built a coalition beyond the sea. she also had been a countywide elected official. so she had gained the support of many white voters. but there's something, the suburbs outside, several suburbs, particularly the northern part of chicago called color county, and they're because of what was happening around the confirmation of clarence thomas, and the outcry from the sexism or accusations of sexism that were going on, many women voters in the color county ran, not because she ran on issues around, the need for gender equality, but she also had the base and a record on the southside of chicago. she's also from the southside of chicago, around issues, and maybe she didn't talk about it as much but, you know, never ran away from issues when it came to
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racial inequality. so that was pretty much a record. but she built on the coalition that harold washington built on. and so you could see the progression, right. and i hope we get to in a moment, talk about how barack obama sort of build on that tradition and went far beyond what mayor washington, as well as carol moseley braun did in getting white votes. >> let's go there now. so, tell us can put this in context, barack obama, was there during much of this time. you mentioned voter registration drive that benefits -- >> carol when she first runs in 92. >> to put obama in context of washington, as carol moseley braun, and then maybe particularly how his relationship with independent black politics, coalition black politics transformed as he begins from that city and local
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stage to the national convention. >> there's a lot going on there. you know, he runs for congress against bobby rush who is a community center black nationalist, and gets squashed. doesn't win. he talks about political need to build the coalition which is true. overwhelmingly black congressional district. and a racially polarized city. and so you have that, but there's also some other as a talk about, because it's just not where he sits among the independents can which i think is important, but there's a guy, a fellow who was president of the illinois senate. he's been in the trenches, comes out, you know, i personally met him because i did some redistricting work for the illinois senate. as a consultant. he is a great guy.
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he's sort of chain smoker, you know, wheeler and dealer. >> that kind of picture. >> right, right right. so he comes out of that tradition, and barack obama was with jones. ..
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>> it is not part of the story in the book. okay, labor union folks, i want to get some endorsements. i want to see some campaign contributions. so while he is out there, you know, bringing everyone together, blacks and whites together, brown people come altogether, running for the u.s. senate, you have a brilliant politician in that tradition, making it happen. and so it is a very complicated
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issue. i think of that story about, you know, what we have here is a traditional black -- a traditional black tradition that pushes the level of black power in order to make it happen so the coalition happens to get to another stage. >> so in this instance, working mutually exclusively. one helping the other both trying to make some gains. >> right. at least in that chicago moment. on a national stage, i'm not sure that is always the case. >> so you make the point that this time he is running for the senate in the legislature.
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he is talking about criminal justice and racial profiling. he is talking about inequality. as it becomes clear, his popularity in 2004 and the convention speech and even closer as he gets ready to run, you see a decline in this kind of talk. it is interesting. >> i end a chapter on chicago with barack obama the day after he captures the domination for the u.s. senate. you know, you feel that he is uncomfortable with himself becoming a rising star for money to spend time with my family, you know, i can't go to every naacp freedom fund dinner, i can do what i can do. i don't think it is incompatible for me to represent black
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interests in the senate and be the u.s. senator from illinois. and so something happens once he gets to washington. and you see that he is trying to build its national profile. and as i documented in the book, particularly in that chapter that i talk about. this idea of running race neutral candidacies for a majority white constituency of voters, it is nothing new. it started in the 80s in new york. in seattle, washington. all kinds of cities. you can talk about specific
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policies. the idea that black voters kind of understand because you have to do the wink and nod. black politicians wink and black politicians not. i talk about them it in the case of rationale and transparency. there's a lot of winking and nodding. [laughter] >> in some respects, you are saying that the same thing come in the same relationship of black voters and candidates was going on. >> in the case of this nominee. people don't know, for instance, that my angelo wrote a op-ed piece, endorsing clarence thomas on the supreme court. because she felt that any black person who grew up in the rural south, couldn't possibly be that
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conservative. it may take time for him. it is black people, we should lie on the ancestors and wisdom on this one. and we should support this man. as i say, -- >> because when they thought he got in -- we met they thought he was going to change. it is better to have a black conservative than white conservative. you would think a black conservative would be sensitive on these racial issues. the point is that policy -- some key issues affecting the black communities, they took a backseat to the more symbolic idea that there should be a black person replacing thurgood
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marshall on the supreme court. even though thurgood marshall and clarence thomas were ideologically opposite. there was trepidation among both. if you go back and look at the transcript of what people were saying in support of lactose and clarence thomas, they can be role models for the black community. you know, he would be supportive on criminal justice issues and he gave in a single that they would do this. every time i see prisoners, for the grace of god. and then the high-tech lynching comment he made, it consolidated black support around him.
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it is the winks and nods. you know what you're doing. this is a disaster. in the chronicles of the history of black politics in the country. to suffer the consequences of this decision that we are living with. >> similarly, we have talked about your central and most controversial events about barack obama. your argument is that there's wink and nod that he had with the black community, made it difficult for him to think about and target black legislation that will directly benefit the black community? >> it is a twofold process. it is difficult for african americans, leaders of voters who are placing the issue on the agenda.
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black voters are okay with that. because they know they are going to have it used against them. what we have are mostly universal policies and health care is a very important policy accomplishment. a fifth of african americans are uninsured. but when it comes to promises that he made, and i know we are running out of time, but he provided a plan when he was down with black voters in 2007. a speech that he gave on criminal justice reform. mostly because black voters had not held their feet to the fire on these issues like other constituencies. the gay and lesbian community, immigration reform, they got the dream act. they never let up on those
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issues. her black voters and black leaders, there is than this tendency to protect the president did not pressure him into action on these very important issues. >> so barack obama in the black voters in particular, are almost equal and responsible? >> yes, this is a representative democracy. people organize around issues that are important to them. you cannot wait and fix that and wait for, you know, any politician to act in their interest. you have to ask them what you want. if they don't give it to you, not to pressure them to do it. >> a lot of the people would look at the title of your book, particularly the decline of black politics and ask hasn't the decline of black politics long happened? did not begin before barack obama? >> is, it did. actually, since the clinton
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years, actually. very important policy issues that are implemented. unfortunately, like welfare reform, three strikes and you're out. it had voters and leaders challenge those grounds. i am looking for the revival of this. the other part of the title, fredrick harris, the price of the election for barack obama as the first black president, centers around racial equality. you get the idea that we need to have a national conversation about race. you can even have a conversation about race around anything. it is symbolic. this is the price of the ticket.
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i don't think this country can ever give up on discussing the legacy of racism in this country, the persistence of racism and by not talking about it, not raising the issue on the national level them on the state and local level. i think it is detrimental. it is detrimental for those who are interested in pushing policies that would challenge those problems. >> how do we get there? is barack obama, if he gets a second term, is the president to give it -- is there a way to start the revival of what happened? >> i hope we can do so. i think the alternatives are even worse.
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but there is still going to be the pressure to protect them. also, looking into his second term might be. it is very likely that there would still be able republic governance of the house and possibly the senate. those first two years when the window of opportunity may have gone, from my personal perspective, people may be outraged by the second midterm and they might be democratic majorities in both the house and senate. then they will be a lame duck two years. >> there was a lot of bouncing about in 2000 and eight. looking through the lens of the political scientists outside the rigorous forecast models, it doesn't look all that great for that possibility.
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i am hoping there will be a change in congress. another is a reelection. again, african-american voters come advocates around these issues are going to pressure the president into doing it. >> i enjoyed the book and enjoyed talking to you about it. >> thank you so much for having me. >> that was "after words." authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by public policymakers, journalists, and others familiar with their material. afterwards there is every weekend on booktv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on


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